Happening Now

What's Happening To RPA's Spring Meeting?

March 9, 2020

Rescheduling Annual Day On The Hill To May

by Jim Mathews / President and CEO

Members, friends and advocates:

The rapidly evolving coronavirus situation is taking on the shape of a pandemic. Out of concern for our members -- a large share of whom fall into the risk groups identified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control -- we are rescheduling our annual Spring Advocacy Summit and Day On The Hill to sometime in mid-May, while conducting most of the presentations on time in March using live video and audio streaming. Those streams will be available to paid conference registrants.

We are working very closely with our hotel and meeting partners to solidify the May dates. We are also working with them to transfer members' existing room reservations to the new dates without charge and without losing the original discount offered to our memers who booked early.

Below is the text of a letter I've sent to all members and attendees. I'm reproducing it here so that more people will see it. We're working hard to support you during this very troubling time, and we're hoping you'll continue to support us and be understanding as we try to navigate a very fluid situation.


Members and Friends:

As you may have seen or heard through the "rumor mill," due to the emergence of new coronavirus infections in the D.C. area we have decided to DELAY -- not cancel -- our Spring meeting until mid-May. We are working very closely with the Embassy Suites on two sets of possible dates, either the 10th through the 13th or the 17th through the 20th. Your registration fee would continue to cover attendance during the rescheduled dates, and we are working with the hotel to transfer room registrations at no charge and at the same discounted rate.


*We have not decided to cancel the meeting.* There is a significant difference. We ask that you please hold off on making major changes to your plans until you hear more from us. If you are considering canceling your registration, I'm personally encouraging you to consider whether you can attend in mid-May. Our program will be just as strong, and our mission will continue. And we still need as many of you as possible to deliver that message in person to our elected representatives.

We are also making arrangements for every registered attendee to keep their scheduled congressional appointments, and to convert them into phone meetings. We want to make sure we deliver the message on-time to important congressional offices. Keeping those appointments is vital as we work to ensure the reauthorization and other priorities are supported.

Finally, we will be conducting much of the full-day Monday and Wednesday programs live, online, using a video and audio streaming platform. The platform will allow you to see and hear the presenters, live, to ask questions during the Q&A, and to vote on Council business matters during the Wednesday business meeting.

Your registration fee covers the video/audio online meeting in March, AND the in-person meeting in May.


You still can! If you register for the May session (details to come) you will also be given secure online access to the March video and audio streaming meetings. As explained above, we will conduct the Monday presentations and the Wednesday business meetings live on this platform, and you can participate fully in those sessions.


Nonprofit organizations have a special responsibility to be good stewards of their resources, and that's doubly true for a membership organization whose resources come from all of you. But the single most important resource we have is our members themselves -- our hardworking volunteer citizen-advocates who attend public meetings, speak to local officials, and work on our mission in their communities.

Protecting all of you is my number one priority.

This is a very fluid situation, with changes happening hourly...especially around the D.C. region. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new guidance this morning (Monday) about travel for those who are older or who have medical conditions. Older folks with medical conditions make up a very large share of our membership, so this guidance is especially important for us at the Association.

The CDC now says "It has become clear that people with underlying conditions such as heart disease, chronic lung disease, diabetes, and other conditions that cause suppression of immune system particularly among the older adults, are at a high risk of serious disease if infected with the novel coronavirus. To best protect these vulnerable individuals, we recommend that such individuals avoid situations that increase their risk of acquiring infections. This entails avoiding crowded places, avoiding non-essential travel such as long plane trips, and especially avoiding embarking on cruise ships."

You can read more about the CDC guidance at this link: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/covid-19-cruise-ship.


Jim Mathews
President & CEO
Rail Passengers Association